What Awaits You in the Shadows?

What happens in the silence, in the quiet, in the moments of non-doing?
Well, it’s pretty freaking hard to tell.  Because WHEN do we experience moments of quiet and calm and stillness??  Even if you meditate, at least in my experience, it’s an experience of a constant hamster wheel of thoughts, from which I am continuously trying to redirect my attention.  Not a lot of peace and quiet there some days!
This is where Somatic Experiencing can help.
I spent 4 days last week learning how Somatic Experiencing (SE) can help me, and how it can help me help you.  Somatic Experiencing is a type of trauma resolution work.  To understand why trauma resolution work is so needed, it’s necessary to understand what trauma is. In SE it’s described as anything that overwhelms the nervous system’s ability to cope.  In today’s fast paced world, we are in a constant state of overwhelm.  Here’s a fun fact:
“We are bombarded by about 74 gigabytes of information per day. Yet, we can only consciously handle 6 bytes (40-50 bits) of information per second. Our daily info load is more than what the average person of five hundred years ago would have consumed in a lifetime.”  Rian Doris, Flow Research Collective.
When our nervous systems get overwhelmed, they can signal DANGER!!! even when there is no active threat to us.  The nervous system can get stuck in a self-protection response that the circumstance no longer dictates.  When this happens, it’s harder to be in the Here and Now, harder to have access to health and wellbeing.  We can feel stuck.
So what to do!?
In SE work, you slow the felt experience WAY down, to give the nervous system time to tell its story (which may differ from the story our minds tell us).  It looks like taking time to really notice: What am I feeling?  Where am I feeling it?  How would I describe the sensation?  What colors, textures, shape does it have?  Does it have edges?  What happens if I just watch the sensation?  And, as you experience the sensations, the practitioner is there to help you stay grounded and present by asking questions, by noticing if/when you start to get amped up, and by guiding you back to a safety.
I found that, if I am on my own, I just do not allow myself the time to stay present with what I am feeling and sensing.  I feel too busy, too rushed, and the old, “I’ll do it later” thought takes over.  But when I have a kind, compassionate witness sitting with me, really SEEING me, really encouraging me to take all the time I need, lending me their stable nervous system when I need it, it’s amazing the universe of sensations and experiences that I begin to notice. It’s a gift.
In this Beginning II training class, we worked with disrupted self-protection responses:  Arrest response/preparatory orienting, flight, fight, freeze.  If any of these self-protection responses are stopped before they can be completed (think about car accidents, falls, accidents, being hit by something, etc.), the energy mobilized by that response can cause disturbances in our bodies, such as:

  • Hypo vigilance – You don’t notice threats, especially coming from a certain direction.  This may mean you bump into stuff a lot, feel clumsy or accident prone.  You may be unaware of space and time and may get lost easily.
  • Hyper vigilance – You are hyper aware of threats, feel anxious, fatigued, can’t connect deeply with others.
  • Jaw tension, holding fists, narrowing eyes, aggressive posture.
  • Angry outbursts or lack of anger when the context warrants it, due to loss of relationship with the emotion of anger.
  • Not really sitting in chair (ready to run).
  • Constriction in legs, arms (bracing).
  • Loss of connection with legs and/or arms.
  • Nervous energy, sense of urgency.
  • Tension in body.
  • Feeling of not caring and that nobody cares.
  • Feeling of being floaty, sleepy, groggy

Interesting, eh??  So many common experiences in our body could possibly be tied back to a traumatic event and an incomplete self protection response.

If this has piqued your curiosity, you can book a free 30 minute coaching session with me here.  I am still learning (I have 2.5 years left of classes), and I really appreciate the opportunity to share this life-changing work with you and get some practice at the same time. You can also book a regular session here.

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Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

On “Life Is Pain”

“Life IS pain, Highness.  Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.” The Dread Pirate Roberts.

Do you think that’s true?  Do you think life IS pain?  Is life SUPPOSED to be painful?  What would life be like if we never experienced pain?  What if we could change our experience of pain by changing our thoughts about the pain? 

What if instead of resisting the pain, and being angry at the pain, and feeling betrayed by our bodies, what if we paused, gave the sensation some space, and allowed our attention to rest there with curiosity, compassion, and without judgment?  What would happen? How could your relationship to the pain shift?

By changing our mindset around pain, we can help ourselves stop layering suffering on top of the pain.

If we can start to see pain as a teacher – a messenger who is showing us that something is out of balance in our body, our mind, and/or our spirit, then we can start to change how we relate to it.  We may still have the pain, but when we remove the resistance (when we stop fighting what IS), we remove that layer of mental suffering.

The mind is so powerful!  Our thoughts and beliefs form the matrix of our world.  Our thoughts about pain, stress, and food can effect physical changes in our body.  If we see stress as a good thing (e.g. while stress may be difficult in the moment, it’s going to help us get stronger), then stress is less damaging to us.  If we see a food as indulgent (even if we consider it a “healthy” food), our hormones will shift and help us feel more full after eating it.

If you dig this topic and want to dive in a little deeper, here is a fascinating podcast from Dr. Andrew Huberman and Dr. Alia Crum where they discuss mindset and how our thoughts and beliefs can change our hormones, our cardiovascular health, and our immune system.

Somatic Experiencing Update

Next week I start the first class of the 3-year Somatic Experiencing Program training.  Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented therapy that helps heal trauma and dysregulation of the nervous system.  I’m drawn to this work because after living mostly in my head for 40 years, I’ve realized that I’m missing out on a lot of the color and vibrancy of life because I feel it’s much safer to live in my head than in my body.  And I see this echoed in many of my friends, family, and clients.  I’m doing this program so I can continue to build on the tools of bodywork and yoga to help my clients and myself figure out how to live a life in full color, and where it’s safe to experience the full range of human emotion.  =

Teaching Update

  • If you are interested in learning how to dial down tension in your body with the use of self-massage, movement, breath, and meditation, join me at QC YogaCon on March 5th at 4PM.  The convention has an impressive line-up of teachers from all over the country, and the entire focus of the convention is on mental health.  The convention runs from March 4 – 6, and the cost is $250.  This is a fundraising event for the QC Yoga Foundation, whose mission it is to bring the transformative teachings of yoga to as many Quad Citians as possible.  Here is my affiliate link if you would like to register:   

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